Nouble at the double
Sunday, 18 July, 2010
Frank Nouble and Thomas Cruise score as Lions make winning start.
Nicholas Veevers in Flers
UEFA European U19 Championships
England made a winning start to the European U19 Championships on a sunny Sunday evening in France, as a first half brace from Frank Nouble and a second half strike from Thomas Cruise proved to be enough to defeat a spirited Austria.
The goals from Nouble, his first for the U19s, gave Noel Blake's team a great platform but the Austrians showed detemination and will and a late flurry in the second half which almost saw them snatch a point.
It wasn't to be though, and England can now head into Wednesday's game with the Netherlands knowing that a win should be enough to take them through to the semi-final.
Austria actually started brightly though and came the closest to opening the scoring when a suspiciously offside looking David Alaba got beyond Nathan Baker but could only flash his shot wide of the far post from a tight angle.
It was England who took the lead though, perhaps slightly against the run of play, when a direct ball over the top from Matthew Briggs was only half cleared by Emir Dilaver. Nouble didn’t need a second invitation and after bringing the ball under control in the box, he fired a low left-footer past Phillip Petermann and into the bottom corner.
It was almost two in the 20th minute, when Dean Parrett and Nathan Delfouneso traded passes through the centre but Petermann was out quickly to make a brave save at the feet of Delfouneso just as he was about to pull the trigger.
The Young Lions didn’t have to wait long for another though, and it was an almost identical goal to the opener. Briggs again chipped a pass forward and when Gernot Trauner could only stretch to flick it on, Nouble was in behind him and onto it in a flash before striking a clean shot past Petermann from what seemed an impossible angle.
Parrett was then desperately unlucky not to make it 3-0, when his free-kick from 25 yards had Petermann beaten only to come crashing back off the crossbar.
To level things up though, the lively Alaba suffered the same fate just a few minutes after that, when he struck a free-kick at goal which left the goal frame shaking after rattling the bar and bouncing away to safety.
Whilst neither team made any alterations at the break, it was Austria who were out early and they started in a determined fashion as they looked to get themselves back in the game.
Christophe Knassmullner had perhaps the best of their openings when he was picked out in space in the area, but rather than lay the ball off to the unmarked Marco Djuricin, he elected to shoot and Nathan Baker was in no mood to let that happen as he made a fine block.
Christian Klem then tried to test Declan Rudd with a 25 yard shot, but the England ‘keeper watched it all the way to make a comfortable save.
England had already been warned about the dead ball ability of Alaba in the first half, but they had no answer to it in the 52nd minute as he connected perfectly with a free-kick from the right which beat Rudd and found the near corner.
They could have found themselves level moments later too, when Djuricin found himself with just Rudd to beat but the England goalkeeper was sharply out and made a fine save.
The importance of that was highlight seconds later, as England broke to the other end and won a corner. John Bostock swung it over from the right and when Steven Caulker nodded it goalwards, it dropped nicely for Cruise who drilled it home to restore a two goal lead.
Austria still weren’t finished though, and they pulled another goal back with just over 15 minutes remaining when substitute Andreas Tiffner played a pass across the area to Trauner. He made amends for his earlier mistake by smashing a low shot which arrowed perfectly into the far corner.
Again, they smelt an equaliser and Rudd had to be at his best when another howitzer from Alaba came his way. He could only have seen it late, but proceeded to make a spectacular tip over to keep them at bay.
England had a great chance to get a fourth it with just seconds left on the clock when Parrett did well to win the ball on the right before playing in Delfouneso. He was clear on goal but Petermann made another good save as the striker tried to go around him.
It wasn't to matter though, as England comfortably held on at the other end to seal a perfect start to the competition.